Our aim is to maintain a welcoming atmosphere towards refugees resettling in the Malvern Hills area and to offer appropriate practical assistance and support to these families, who have fled violence and the horrors of war, in order that they live fulfilled lives free from poverty, discrimination and harassment.
We encourage their integration into living and working in the local community in order that they become independent as swiftly as is practicable.
Our English Programme
We are very proud of our English programme! People who have been resettled in Malvern have arrived with no, or little, English. The English provision given by Malvern Welcomes is one of our great strengths and is seen as a model by the Home Office, who have commented on the high level of English attained by resettled people in such a short time. The programme is delivered entirely by experienced and qualified volunteer language tutors.
Under Community Sponsorship, Malvern Welcomes is required to provide ten hours a week of ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages). Our team has gone way beyond this with the two Malvern Welcomes Community Sponsorship families. Within a week of their arrival, our ESOL Coordinator meets with each family, makes assessments and customises the lessons to the individual needs of each family member. This ensures the teaching is of the highest standard possible. The most current and up to date resources are used and tutors continually adapt the individual learning programme to ensure that these continue to meet the language needs of each learner.
We saw a need early on to extend this programme to include the families who are being resettled in Malvern by Worcestershire County Council and, at their request, they are now included in our programme. As well as in-home lessons, we also run weekly group lessons, where all families can learn in level-appropriate classes while having the opportunity to socialise.
As a reinforcement to the formal lessons, volunteers visit the families regularly as befrienders for English conversation. Although this is separate from the carefully planned programme, it is important for the morale and confidence of the families.
There are also twice-weekly language classes at a centre in Malvern which are not run by Malvern Welcomes but we work very closely with the organisers and many of our volunteers teach there.
The History of Malvern Welcomes
From our initial approach to Malvern Hills District Council in December 2014 we encountered many obstacles. Our request had to be taken to Worcestershire County Council as a county-wide approach was required. A report was commissioned which recommended that the council should not accept any refugees due to funding implications. This was very frustrating for us as we knew from the experience of our colleagues in other parts of the UK that the funding, which is provided by the UK Government, is adequate.
We wrote many letters to MPs, councillors and local papers. We collected signatures on a petition, engaged with the public, organized a demonstration in Malvern, attended council meetings and ran awareness-raising courses. We were growing all the time and an increasing number of people joined us in these activities.
Finally, in January 2016, we were given the wonderful news that Worcestershire had agreed to resettle 12 Syrian families (50 people) with the possibility of a rolling programme to take more in future years.
Since then we have been delighted to welcome five families to Malvern.